Posts Tagged ‘gifts’

Mind Over Matter

Friday, December 16th, 2016
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I’ve been unsettled lately. The universe seems to be sending me (and lots of people I know) signs that we need to simplify, focus, cultivate warmth and compassion. Of course, I turn to knitting, as it is one of the crafts I can count on to engage my mind without leaving much room for thinking about what seems to be a bleak next few months. A yarn I’ve been loving is West Yorkshire Spinners Illustrious, a serious wooly wool that isn’t scratchy or fuzzy. West Yorkshire Spinners are based in England (of course!) and source their wool locally, processing it in a very traditional way on state of the art equipment. It’s the best of both worlds or handmade craftsmanship and cutting-edge technology. The result is a tightly spun DK-weight yarn in 12 delicious colors to use as you’d like. Stranding, cables, textures, open-work; Illustrious can do it all.

West Yorkshire Spinners Illustrious yarn and pattern collection. Read more on the WEBS Blog at

West Yorkshire Spinners commissioned designer Emma Wright to come up with a series of garments, accessories, and wearables to showcase Illustrious, and her 11 patterns reflect the design process from start to finish. I’ve been eyeing a fantastic colorwork cardigan called Hermione so I can use as many of those 12 colors as possible.

What kind of knitting takes you to a happier place? Let us know in the comments.

It’s the little things

Wednesday, December 7th, 2016
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I love unusual little things – handy tools that tuck into pockets or small pouches, ordinary accessories that are made with a special touch, small gifts that don’t break the bank yet bring smiles and joy. Naturally, that means I delight in the holiday season and the chance to search for little treasures to surprise my family and friends. Part of the joy for me is finding something special that the giftee can use in creating things. Don’t get me wrong, nothing beats a box of bonbons, but I am a practical person and want the gift to be useful and long lasting.

With that in mind, I cast my eye around the weaving and spinning realm to see what little delights fit the bill. First there are the unsung heroines of weaving – the Floating Sues, made by Jim Hokett. These beautiful gadgets fall into the category of “that’s so simple, I could have made it myself”, which then leads to “but why would I make them when these are so beautiful and such a great deal”. Floating Sues look like a spindle with hooks on both ends and a beautiful chunk of wood in the middle. They are made to hang on floating selvages or to weight down broken warp ends. After years of dealing with canisters of pennies and fishing weights, I love the simplicity and ease of these. They come in 2 size options and if I need more weight I can add something on the bottom hook.

Floating Sues from Hokett make a wonderful addition to any weaver's tool box. Read more on the WEBS Blog at

For spinners, we recently started carrying Snyder Spindles, wonderful little Turkish drop spindles made from beautiful woods or with colorful 3D printed arms. I wrote about them in the this post last month, so it felt like cheating to go on about them again, so I turned my gaze farther afield and spied the shimmery braids of 50/50 Merino Tencel Top from Frabjous Fibers. I know it’s a bit fluffy to stuff into a pocket, but it’s a wonderful gift, nonetheless. It’s something new and different, the colorways are dreamy and that shine! I envision spinning a lightweight 2-ply to knit into a sensuous shawl.

And for those of you in our neck of the woods, drop by the store to see the gift table up front. There are many small trinkets we brought in just for the holidays, all of them fiber-related and fun – gift tags, mugs, laser-carved wooden gauges and ornaments and more. They are here for now and in small quantities, so you will only find them in the store. Come in and take a look!

Kits = Best Thing Ever

Friday, July 29th, 2016
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Kits seems to be the New Thing. I think that I’ve never seen so many kits in the store as I did on a recent meander through the yarns. I hasten to add that I think kits are a fabulous thing, because you have every single thing you need to knit or crochet (or weave!) a project with no need to make any kind of decision whatsoever, other than what color palette you most enjoy. There are so many different project kits I’m just dying to use that I thought I’d let you in on some of my favorites.

Project and specialty yarn kits available at Read more on the WEBS Blog at

The Fair Isle Box of Itty-Bitties captured my heart. If you’ve ever done Fair Isle knitting you know that you use about a yard of each color and it makes no financial sense to buy 10 different skeins of yarn and use a quarter of each to make a hat. This beautiful box of teensy skeins of sport weight yarn in 8 colors will turn into a beautiful Fair Isle hat in your talented hands. Three different colorways give lots of options.

More options await you in the Wonderland Yarns “Mad Hatter” kits. Included in each kit is a large skein (344 yards) and 5 smaller skeins (86 yards each) for a total of 774 yards of lovely sport weight yarn. That’s plenty to make the “Which Way” shawl that is free with the purchase of one of the 6 color options.

Artyarns has also conspired to seduce fiberlovers with Gradient Kits. These are colors in the same family that range from light to dark, perfect for shawls and scarves in ombre or gradient designs. WEBS carries several different color palettes including 3 that are exclusive to our customers. And Merino Cloud yarns are deeeee-lightful, a merino/cashmere blend that is twisted for beautiful stitch definition.

There are plenty more to drool over–Zen Yarn Gardens Cordoba Shawl kit, using Superfine Fingering yarn in their signature intense colors, Lorna’s Laces String Quintet kits in Shepherd Sock, Baah Yarns “Wings” cowl kit in Baah Yarns’ La Jolla, pattern included in the kit. I think you’ll have a hard time deciding to make just one project. Tell us what kits you love the most in the comments!

Gifts, Just Because

Friday, June 3rd, 2016
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Normally, this time of year means Father’s Day, graduations, weddings, all kinds of big-ticket events which require big-ticket gifts. But as a mom, I’ve found that this time of year is also the time to think of babysitter gifts (thank goodness WEBS is located in the middle of 5 colleges. My kids had babysitters for any occasion.), teacher gifts, playdate-host-mom gifts…the list can be endless. While many of my friends/babysitters/kids’ teachers are fiber crafters, sometimes they aren’t. WEBS has lots of fun stuff that doesn’t necessarily require that you know the word “gauge” to enjoy.

Gift ideas on the WEBS Blog at

Frabjous Fibers produces the cutest little notion bags I’ve seen in a long time. The bags come in varied sizes and shapes, like this itty bitty sheepy, this “Mama Sheep” scalloped-edge envelope, and this fun brightly-colored bag big enough to hold tissues, a juice box, and your phone. You can also get an adorable felt “embellishment” which I’d put on a backpack or pin to a hand-made hat for a special caregiver.

If you want to get a little fancier, what about a shawl pin? They don’t have to go on a knitted or crocheted shawl, you know. This Moving Mud Shawl Closure is so stunning that I’d wind it into a scarf or onto a bag. This is a great gift for a harried mom who has driven carpool for so long that she dreams in Cheerios.

The lovely Beckys Glass stitch marker charms look as good made into earrings as they do adorning your knitting needles. Or maybe you could string them onto an inexpensive chain to be used as a grown-up-looking birthday gift for a party princess?

I hope this gives you some ideas for fun presents that don’t have to break the bank. If you have a particularly difficult personality to buy for, throw a skein of yarn and some needles into a gift bag, and promise your skills as a teacher. The gift of your time is always appreciated!

Knitting for Pleasure

Friday, December 4th, 2015
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If you read the title and think that I’m talking about knitting for the pleasure of knitting, you’re wrong. Don’t get me wrong, I do love to knit and I do it  instead of as therapy sometimes. What I love more is knitting something FOR someone and giving it to them. Hand-knitted gifts often trump more elaborate “store-bought” gifts by virtue of the hand-knitting. You actually created something for someone.

I was reminded of this when I gave my son a simple hat and scarf I knit out of Valley Yarns Sunderland. He doesn’t care one bit about the fiber content (as long as it’s not itchy) or how luxurious or locally sourced or hand-dyed that yarn is. He needed a hat and I had enough yarn left for a scarf.

Knitting joy, gifts and more on the WEBS Blog at

The pleasure for me was that as soon as he saw that hat he put it right on his head and it didn’t leave that head anytime he was outside. He even wore it inside (our house is a bit chilly). That’s why you knit gifts and give them away — because it feels good.

Valley Yarns Sunderland is my current obsession. Check out this soft, heathery ball of lovely and knit a gift for a friend. It’ll make you feel SO much better!

Holiday Catalog Spotlight: Gifts to Make – Larger Projects

Monday, November 9th, 2015
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Our holiday catalog is hitting mailboxes now, and the holidays are quickly approaching. We’re just two and half weeks away from Thanksgiving here in the US, and I find that once Thanksgiving comes and goes, it’s full steam ahead with no stops to the rest of the holidays. Luckily, there’s still some time to get some bigger projects done, if you’re looking to give something bigger, or if you want to knit something for yourself before the holidays come. Here are a couple of ideas:

Valley Yarns 605 Colorfall Cardigan at

You may remember seeing Valley Yarns 605 Colorfall Cardigan knit in Valley Yarns Charlemont. For the holiday catalog, we knit it in 2/10 Merino Tencel, in a natural/gray combination, and it’s stunning. It’s a perfect layer that can easily be dressed up or dressed down.

Valley Yarns 676 Two-Tone Blanket and Valley Yarns 663 Oatmeal Afghan at

In the holiday catalog, you’ll also find two spectacular blankets. Valley Yarns 663 Oatmeal Afghan and Valley Yarns 676 Two-Tone Blanket are great gift ideas. The Oatmeal Afghan is knit in Valley Yarns Amherst, which is one of my favorite Valley Yarns because it is so soft. I would love to have this blanket on my couch for the cold nights that are surely coming. The Two-Tone Blanket is knit in Valley Yarns Valley Superwash Bulky, so it’s a quick knit that’s machine washable. It’s also a multidirectional knit that gives it an interesting, modular look. I love that you can be creative and select your own color combinations. I can see one in just brights using some of the newer colors of Valley Superwash Bulky.

Prism Eccentric Chevrons Shawl and Rowan Triangle Shawl at

Want to give a shawl to someone? Prism’s Eccentric Chevron Wrap is available in a kit so you don’t have to worry about selecting the colors. The graphic interest comes from unbalanced, or eccentric chevrons: one leg is much longer than the other, which skews the fabric off-center. Even better, the kit is discountable, so you automatically get our discount. If the person you’re creating a gift for is into a little sparkle, you might want to check out the Triangle Shawl from the Rowan Swarovski Evening Collection. This shawl is knit with Rowan Kidsilk Haze, then there’s a crocheted border with Swarovski crystals.

Are you planning any larger projects for holiday knitting?

Oh, So Fast, The Holidays Come…

Friday, November 6th, 2015
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I went downtown today to run an errand, and what did I see? Evergreen garland being put up on several storefronts and lightposts. It’s just too soon! Every year, I kick about this and nobody listens.

If we’re going to front-load the holiday season, at least let us have beautiful knits to make our holiday crafting better. I got a fun email from our friend Kristin Nicholas with the news that Yankee Magazine, the bible of New Englanders, is featuring some of her holiday patterns as well as the cutest video of her Pom Pom Garlands. This is a craft that can be done by anyone with the dexterity of a 3-year-old with the Clover Pom Pom makers sold in our store. Her Pom Poms are characteristically Kristin, made with her striking color choices.

Colorful holiday gift ideas from Kristin Nicholas on the WEBS Blog. Read more at

I always try to point folks making Christmas stockings to Kristin’s Creative Christmas Stockings pattern, available in PDF form. The colors are not what you’d call “Christmas-sy” but to me, that makes them way more appealing. The bright contrasts are as joyful as the spirit of the holidays; and aren’t you all getting a wee bit tired of red, green, blue, and white? Yankee magazine is also featuring Kristin’s Heart to Heart Mittens, which we carry in PDF as well. The word “happy” doesn’t begin to cover how these fun mittens make one feel. Not only does the pattern give you two options, one for one heart, one for many hearts, but Kristin’s clear directions even show the knitter how to embroider the accents onto the mittens before the top is closed, making them even easier to knit.

If all holiday designs could be knit in Color By Kristin yarn, I’d be much less Grinchly. What makes your holiday knitting happier?

An Unexpected Treat

Friday, October 2nd, 2015
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I get the WEBS emails, just like you do. Last week, one sprang out at me, featuring a yarn I had heard about but not really seen (I work tucked away in one of the offices and am not out in the store as much as I want to be!). Amano is a lovely group of yarns in enough weights to satisfy any knitter, crocheter, or weaver, all featuring some iteration of alpaca–baby, royal, and an important-sounding alpaca designated “Imperial,” which obviously makes it the Homecoming King this year. Late-breaking news: Royal is the TOP 1% of alpaca fiber, Imperial is the next 2-10%. So, royal is the Homecoming King and imperial, obviously, is the guy who fixes the overhead projector.

Amano Ayni is my new best friend. 80% baby alpaca, 20% silk, this sport-weight dream of a skein has a hint of halo, enough to say “I’m soft, but not scratchy.” I am imagining a drapy A-line sweater, soft enough to wear next to the skin. Warmi (is that the best name for a yarn? yes.) is a worsted-weight workhorse, perfect for sweaters, shawls, hats, or scarves. It’s got a lush color palette inspired by fruits and vegetables.

The new Amano yarns now available at Read more on the WEBS Blog at

Puna means “Andes Mountains” in the native language of the Incas, and is the essence of the Andes, made from 100% baby alpaca in a beefy 273-yard skein. It’s got a little more halo than Ayni, so I’d treat it a bit more gently, and my perfect project for this sport-weight wonder is the Delia Cowl in Amano’s pattern book for Fall/Winter. The simple openwork contrasts with the warmth of the alpaca to make a very useful garment.

The dip-dyed colorways of Mayu would be a wonderful vehicle for a body-conscious sweater– the addition of cashmere and silk to alpaca makes it almost criminally soft, and the heathery tones almost gleam, showing off the myriad shades in the skein. Puyu means “cloud” in the language of the Incas, and it does look very cloudlike. Baby alpaca is blown into a mesh tube made of silk for an almost two-tone appearance that will make luxurious accessories like hats, scarves, and even ponchos look expensive. Rounding out the Amano family is Apu (“Simpsons” fans will join me in a round of giggles), a dainty ball of imperial alpaca that I can’t stop holding. The Maria Cowl in Amano‘s pattern collection seems like the perfect project in Apu, with startling stitch definition and a drapy texture that caresses the skin.

Check out this new family online or in the store–you’ll want to make friends immediately. What project are you looking forward to knitting in an Amano yarn?

Knitting Through the Years

Friday, July 31st, 2015
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Recently, a friend told me about her mother, a knitter and crafter, who has been having some memory problems. She wants to keep knitting but she has problems counting her stitches, and following patterns if they aren’t right in front of her, clearly marked. It made me think about what we carry here that would be helpful, and I thought I’d let you in on what I found.

Knitting tools to help with memory and keeping track of projects, on the WEBS Blog at

First of all, the Knitter’s Pride Large Pattern Holder seems like a lifesaver. It’s big enough to hold a pattern straight up, or any series of charts so that you don’t have to keep shuffling papers around (my friend’s mother has NO use for technology, so unfortunately paper patterns are her go-to). The magnetic straight-edge holds everything firmly against the backing, and also can be used as a row marker so she doesn’t lose her place.

The Bryspun Rainbow Rings are great stitch markers; colorful enough to stand out from your stitches, and rubber, so they stay put. They come in a variety of sizes, so they’ll fit on pretty much any size needles. The Clover Split Ring Markers are good for hanging on your stitches; if you have a pattern repeat you can mark it off so that you don’t have to remember where to start or how many stitches are in the repeat. They’re easy as pie to move around, too, so that if you increase or decrease, you don’t need to worry that you’ve lost any stitches.

Everyone’s favorite row counter, the Clover Kacha Kacha Knitting Counter, makes a very definitive CLICK and goes up to 99, which is a lot of satisfying clicking. I’ve used one of these since I started knitting and I’ve never had to replace mine. They last forever. Clover also makes a locking row counts, called a Mini. The beauty of this one is that if it gets pushed around in your knitting bag, it won’t change numbers accidentally. It also has a little loop that you can thread some yarn or string through to  make it a pendant so you don’t forget about it if you get up from your knitting chair to get a cocktail glass of iced tea.

The CocoKnits Knitter’s Keep is the most brilliant thing ever. It’s a slap bracelet (that makes SUCH a satisfying sound) that comes with metal cable needle, stitch markers, all kinds of things you need to keep track of while knitting or crocheting. And you just attach them to your bracelet and it holds it for you. Genius. No more turning around in circles while you try to locate a stray needle.

If you are a crocheter, Addi makes ergonomic hooks that don’t tax arthritic fingers. I’m told that the Knitter’s Pride Cubics needles serve the same function, but I bet there are needles specifically for sore hands and wrists out there.

The last thing I thought might be a great addition to a knitting bag are the Nancy’s Knit Knacks Project Cards. You can note what the project you knit was, for whom it was knit, the start and finish date, and any notes – for instance, if you cut out a set of increases, or made the sleeves shorter. Frankly, I could use these myself, since once I finish a project, I often throw it right out of my mind as I hurtle onto the next knitted object.

What have you seen in your LYS that might help you keep crafting as you age? Because I certainly want to keep crafting!

Holidays in July: Keeping Track of it All

Tuesday, July 21st, 2015
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Now that you’ve created your list, and  you know what yarns and projects, you should probably decide how you want to organize all of this info. Are you a pen and paper person? Do you prefer a computer? Your smartphone? You need to pick what’s best for you. If you prefer physically crossing things off a list, you might want to use a notebook. If you, like many of us, live on your smartphone, you may want to utilize an app.

Holidays in July: Keeping Track of It All

Pen and Paper Person?
Head to your favorite office supply, or even better, paper store and peruse the notebooks. There is great joy in selecting a new notebook with fresh pages that’s just waiting to be filled up. Consider how you’ll want to keep track? Are you going to want to dedicate one page per person? (You can draw a big ‘x’ through the page when you finish the project.) Would you like to use lined paper, or maybe graph paper? Again, you need to think about how you’ll function best. I like the idea of using a page per person, especially in a smaller notebook, like a pocket Moleskin.

Computer Savvy?
Do spreadsheets make you grin from ear-to-ear? Does having information saved on a computer make you more comfortable than a notebook that can be lost? Spreadsheets may be the way to go for you. You can organize the columns however you like. Name of the recipient, project name, yarn being used, anything else you need for the project, finish date for the project. You could even include things like start date, halfway point date (where you need to be halfway done), or a column for a contingency gift just in case (which you won’t need, since we’re planning ahead). One of my favorite things is color-coding. I’d probably color code the people by priority level and then the projects by type. If there are several hats on the list, and I’m feeling particularly excited about making hats for a few weeks, I can easily spot them on the spreadsheet and knock them out. When you complete a project, you can gray out the cells, or use strikethrough to mark it finished.

Smartphone Addict?
Nearly everyone I know has some version of a smartphone, and there are tons and tons of different organizational apps. If you’re an organized person, chances are, you already have your favorite. Mine depend on what I’m doing. For example, for something like grocery shopping, I use Clear. This app is basically a list-maker. You can swipe to check the item off the list. If you want something more robust that handles more information, you may want to check out something like 2Do, or Swipes, which integrates with Evernote. Because organization is such a personal thing, you want to use the app that’s best for you.

How will you keep yourself organized?